Archive for August, 2012
Campaign spending for television time in Virginia this year has already broken previous records. The commonwealth is ranked number three in the top ten Presidential battle ground states and has a hotly contested US Senate race. That means, people in our area are seeing a lot of the candidates, in person and on television. Robbie Harris has this report.
The upcoming Presidential election is an event that will galvanize many voters, and it could be so close that the State Board of Elections is trying to ensure that every vote is counted. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Board is reaching out to military personnel who can’t head out to the polls but will have other options for casting their votes.
President Obama campaigned in Charlottesville Wednesday, addressing a crowd of about 7,500 people on the downtown mall. Sandy Hausman was there and filed this report.
Virginia Delegates from the region at the Republican National Convention in Florida say Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare isn’t a liability. Matt Laslo reports from Tampa.
The Obama campaign sparked excitement on the University of Virginia campus four years ago, but UVA has been in a more pragmatic mood this year. Sandy Hausman reports the school refused permission for a rally, and some students weren’t able to miss class to hear the President speak.
One Virginia-based wholesaler says that before Hurricane Isaac even came close to hitting the Gulf Coast, five refineries indicated that they were raising gas prices before the end of the day—which is highly unusual. But now that the storm has actually caused damage, the question isn’t “if” prices will continue to rise, but “how much?” Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
A new study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests that BPA, a chemical found in plastic bottles and the lining of cans, effects the behavior of laboratory mice exposed during gestation – and the effects persist three generations later. The study also suggests a possible link between BPA and autism as Sandy Hausman reports.
As President Obama prepares to return to Charlottesville, 95 Virginia Republican delegates and alternates have gathered for a Grand Old Party in Tampa. The conventioneers are gearing up in hopes of moving the Commonwealth to the Republican column when the electoral votes are counted. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan spoke with some of the delegates …who say the nation’s economic woes were the catalyst for their political activism.
Polls show the U-S Senate race in Virginia has been locked in a neck and neck tie for months…as two well known former governors duke it out. Matt Laslo checked in with the two candidates and found both sides are working hard yet seemingly gaining no ground.
As the Republican convention kicks off this week in Tampa the party is convening without two Virginia Republicans. Matt Laslo has the details from Tampa.
You wouldn’t know by all those ads on TV, but the traditional start to the campaign season in Virginia begins on Labor Day. On this edition of “Virginia Conversations” – a roundtable discussion of campaign spending and candidate stump speeches in the Old Dominion. Our guests are Bob Gibson of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, Mike Sluss of the Roanoke Times and Jeff Schapiro from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Leaders of the nursing community in Virginia are angry over a deal between Virginia Community Colleges and an online university based in Utah. Sandy Hausman reports that nursing programs in the Commonwealth were caught by surprise.
Virginia’s preeminent place in the annals of U.S. history means that in any given year, there’s always an anniversary of some significant site or event in the Commonwealth. The latest is the bicentennial of a building that survived two wars and has served as the residence of 54 governors. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, it’s a home that’s just a stone’s throw from the State Capitol.
Governor McDonnell has pledged not to raise taxes for any reason, but analysts say the state will run out of money for new road construction in five years. Public opposition to proposed toll roads is growing, but the governor may soon announce a new source of revenue for transportation projects – one that could solve short-term problems but cost the state millions in future revenues.
A Virginia lawmaker believes the Commonwealth should join neighboring states Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia in building fully operational casinos. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, she believes this will not only help fix the state’s budget problems, but bring much-needed relief to the region which she represents.
On this edition of “Virginia Conversations,” how law enforcement agencies are using Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter to fight crime. Join host May-Lily Lee for a discussion with one law enforcement agency on the cutting edge of social media, as well as parents who have turned to the internet to help solve the abduction and murder of their daughter.
Nearly a million Virginians will soon have to adjust to changes in the way they shop for their groceries. That’s because the Virginia Department of Social Services will begin staggering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit schedule in an effort to better accommodate its recipients. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the aim is to promote good health through better nutrition.
It was one year ago today, August 23, that a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook Virginia. It was the largest earthquake in 400 years to occur on the Eastern Seaboard—and was felt by tens of millions of people. The epicenter was in Louisa County—and around Virginia, thousands of buildings in the state were damaged, even destroyed. Connie Stevens has this update, as research into the event continues. ua
Despite opposition from some groups who say that a new voter ID law in Virginia equates to voter suppression, the State Board of Elections is working to implement the federally sanctioned law. And as Virginia Public Radio Tommie McNeil reports, the Board has launched a new initiative to educate voters about the law before the November election.
While a number of elected officials are calling for some tax increases to fund programs and cut the federal deficit, some small business leaders are urging caution about raising taxes and allowing energy prices to soar during the nation’s fragile economic recovery. They say if policymakers really want to promote business growth and put millions of Americans back to work, the U.S. must enact laws that will not burden the “entrepreneurial economy.” And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, that includes recognizing how fiercely competitive other nations have become.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many American soldiers have encountered improvised explosive devices that knocked them unconscious. As a result, experts say they could be left with lifelong problems – uncontrolled anger, frustration and in some cases criminal behavior. Here in Virginia, experts on brain injury are working to diagnose and treat victims – some already serving time in state prisons. Sandy Hausman has details.
Virginia judges have the authority to terminate the rights of parents who have caused a substantial threat to a child’s life, health, or development. But in some cases, the child is never adopted and the parents eventually turn their lives around. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, several lawmakers are calling for creation of a new state process that would permit the restoration of parental rights—IF it’s in the best interest of the child.
Five Virginia schools were singled out this year for recognition in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual report on great colleges to work for in 2012. Sandy Hausman reports three are community colleges, and all but one made the honor roll, scoring well in many categories.
The Virginia Capitol was the venue for four governors of different eras and varying states to discuss the generations-old problem of reforming education. Despite having some philosophical and party differences, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, and Virginia Governors Douglas Wilder and Bob McDonnell engaged in an interesting dialogue about how they believe those reforms could take place. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the Capitol.
The Sanskrit word “Yoga” translates roughly into the English word, “yoke”– – something that pulls things together. A new yoga festival, set for Labor Day weekend in Floyd, aims to bring people together for a celebration of the “yoga lifestyle” with demonstrations, classes, music, food and more. Robbie Harris visited the festival site as final preparations are being made, and has this preview.
Amherst, Virginia is about 400 miles from New York – a place many consider the nation’s cultural capital, but each year, hundreds of artists pack their paint brushes, laptops, musical instruments and other tools of their trade and head for Amherst. Sandy Hausman reports on why that tiny town has become a magnet for creative minds.
The final numbers are in, and now Governor McDonnell is touting a budget surplus of more than $448-million for the state fiscal year that ended in June. But Democrats say, “Not so fast!” As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, although they appreciate that McDonnell gives the credit to bipartisan compromises, Democrats say the savings come at a cost to education and other services.
Federal officials are taking a close look at nursing homes in this and other states – checking to see how they’re using anti-psychotic drugs. Critics say those medications are used to sedate residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but the drugs are not approved for that purpose. Still, some nursing home employees defend their use, as Sandy Hausman reports.
All but two Republican members of Congress from Virginia have signed a pledge to never raise taxes. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is vilified by critics who say its sponsor, Grover Norquist, now controls the Republican Party when it comes to tax policy. Correspondent Matt Laslo reports many Republicans in Virginia are now moving away from the Pledge.
Social Studies teachers who gathered at the Library of Virginia for a workshop this week were treated to an opportunity to see and touch priceless historical artifacts. The educators were participating in the annual “Anne & Ryland Brown Teacher Institute”… and learning how to use the Library’s real-life and digital collections to enhance their classroom lessons. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the workshop also included a unique experience called “feeling the power.”
On this edition of Virginia Conversations, we peer into the classroom, just following the Governor’s Education Reform Summit. Join host May-Lily Lee in her discussion with Anne Carson, President of the Virginia PTA and Mary Futrell, an internationally known educator and a past president of the National Education Association.
Under our current system of medical care, doctors and hospitals make more money if patients don’t get well. Medicare, for example, spends $17 billion on patients who are discharged from the hospital but must come back. This fall, the federal government will start charging hospitals a penalty for those re-admissions, and five medical centers in Virginia will pay the maximum as Sandy Hausman reports.
This story was produced in partnership with Virginia Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News.
It’s generally unspoken but certainly obvious in the 2012 presidential campaign: that President Obama is African-American and former Governor Mitt Romney is Caucasian. That may not be a news flash, but race certainly has been a divisive issue in this nation, and at least one national public figure wants to put it to rest—the nation’s first elected African-American Governor, Douglas Wilder. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports that while Wilder says race has always been an issue in the U.S., there’s no reason to make it a focus of a campaign.
It’s no accident that Mitt Romney’s weekend announcement of Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee happened in Virginia. Matt Laslo reports on the battle for the Commonwealth’s voters.
Join host May-Lily Lee and her guests representing Appalachian Power, Dominion Power, and the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative as they talk about the damage caused— and the lessons learned– from the June 29th storm.
As the Presidential candidates strategize to take key battleground states such as Virginia, some older voters are letting them know exactly which issues are critical for securing their votes. AARP surveys indicate that the number one concern facing those voters is directly tied to Social Security, Medicare, and the ability of Baby Boomers to fund their retirement. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, although older voters want to know where the candidates stand on these issues, they are more concerned about overcoming the stalemate in Washington in order to address them.
When Teresa Sullivan was reinstated as president of the University of Virginia, many people who had protested her dismissal felt relief, but an uneasy tension bubbles below the surface in Charlottesville, as the board of visitors prepares to hold its annual retreat in mid-August. Sandy Hausman reports that many faculty members and alumni want changes in the way the university is governed.
A new poll shows President Obama is ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the race to win over Virginia voters. Matt Laslo reports.
Some higher education leaders are applauding news out of Richmond that although students will pay more in tuition and fees this year, the yearly increase is the lowest in a decade. That’s less than half of last year’s average of seven-point-nine percent. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the decline is due, in part, to a significant investment made by state lawmakers over the last two years.
A follow- up on a story first brought to light when members of Virginia’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted a media briefing, including showing a disturbing demonstration of sex crimes committed against children. That report demonstrated how prevalent such crimes had become in Virginia and beyond. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has – since then – been speaking with investigators and advocacy groups tracking child sexual predators in an effort to close the loopholes that allow some offenders to continue abusing children.
Virginia is one of the most hotly contested states in this year’s presidential election. That makes political outreach to federal workers in the region all the more important. Some Democratic campaigns think they have the votes of most federal workers in the bag. But Matt Laslo reports, it’s more complicated than one might think.
The two mass shootings in recent weeks – first in Aurora, Colorado and then Sunday’s at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin – have only a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill floating ideas to tighten U-S gun laws. Critics say much like after the shooting at Virginia Tech the effort is going nowhere because of the powerful National Rifle Association. Matt Laslo reports some Virginia lawmakers won’t even speak about gun policy.
A new effort is under way to persuade Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly to authorize state compensation for survivors of Virginia’s 1924 forced sterilization law, which was used through 1979. Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope announced the initiative 85 years after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state law, which became a model for other states under the eugenics movement of that era. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the search is on to find victims who may still be alive.
A U-S Senate report gives a failing grade to the for-profit colleges that many veterans attend, which is spurring Virginia Senator Jim Webb’s reform effort.
For-profit colleges rely heavily on tax payer dollars…more than thirty billion dollars from the government keep them afloat annually. Yet the dropout rate for their associate degree programs sits at more than sixty percent, according to the Senate education committee. With so many veterans attending for-profit schools Senator Webb is calling for a veterans educational reform act. It would increase educational standards for for-profit schools receiving federal aid for veterans. Webb says it’s essential to raise those standards.
“We could see this coming. You didn’t have veteran’s representation on the college campuses to the same extent that we had in the past war years when we kicked in this program, so we need the administrative support and we need the standards as existed before.”
Webb’s legislation would also require schools to disclose their graduation statistics. It’s currently co-sponsored by 16 senators.
The State Board of Elections has decided not to ask for a formal investigation into the activities of the Voter Participation Center, which sent out mass mailings to facilitate voter registration that prompted hundreds of complaints. The recipients of the pre-populated, partially completed forms included nonresidents, deceased persons, and pets. But the Center pledged during a public hearing to make some changes before its next mailing.
News reports of ineligible recipients had prompted GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign to ask the state to investigate possible criminal acts and review or reject the resulting 16,000 pre-populated voter applications. Board Chair Charlie Judd listed numerous complaints, and said some mailings caused confusion and even heartbreak.
“But this one makes me say, ‘Shame on you.’ The voter application was filled out and sent to an address in the name of an 8-year-old baby girl—deceased.”
Former Federal Election Commissioner Scott Thomas said the lists came from vendors as the VPC tried to reach two-million unregistered Virginians.
“Part of the program is to work with the list-cleaning system that’s in place to do better and better and apply all of those 13 additional protocols, as they’re called, to prevent the kinds of problems that we, as I said, regret.”
Board members applauded the Center’s goals. Elections Secretary Donald Palmer expressed confidence that Virginia’s local registrars would be able to screen out ineligible applicants. \
–Anne Marie Morgan
Here’s our first episode of “Virginia Conversations,” from Virginia Public Radio. The topic is globalization and the impact on Virginia. Host May-Lily Lee is joined by guests:
–John Bassett III, CEO of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture
–Jeff Keever, a top officials with the Port of Virginia
–Beth Macy, an award-winning journalist spending the next year writing a book on the topic.
This call-in program was broadcast live on Friday, August 3rd.
The hot summer weather has not deterred U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine, who have maintained a brisk pace on the campaign trail. The two former governors have been criss-crossing the Commonwealth, holding meetings with citizens, and unveiling policy positions.
Allen has been visiting businesses. To boost U.S. hiring and competitiveness, he calls for eliminating the red tape that impedes job creators—and cutting corporate income taxes, which are the world’s highest. At Merit Medical Systems in Chester, Allen said he would repeal the new federal tax on medical devices that takes effect in January.
“Where the United States is preeminent in the world is in medical device manufacturing. And so what are the folks in Washington doing? They’re imposing this tax. What is that going to do? It makes our country less competitive!”
Kaine rolled out an energy plan to expand use of all sustainable forms of domestic energy—and spoke at an Arlington forum with government employees. On a conference call, he proposed avoiding scheduled deep defense cuts through spending reductions and renewing most of the Bush tax cuts.
“I’ve called on Congress to allow the tax cuts to expire for those earning over $500,000. This is a middle ground. It’s a compromise between where the president is and the ‘make everything permanent’ position.”
The dates for three more debates have been set—on September 20th, and October 8th and 18th.
–Anne Marie Morgan